Sat. May 25th, 2019

Y Clymau Coll

Adolygiad Llyfr/ Book Review:  “Lost Connections- Johann Hari”

Erthygl Gymraeg. English Language version below

MAE’N debyg mai un o’r elfennau mwyaf brawychus ym mywyd yng Nghymru heddiw ydi’r cyfraddau uchel o iselder, pryder,ac unigrwydd sydd i’w weld ymhlith ein pobol ifanc.

Yn wir, dangosodd un astudiaeth diweddar mai’r genhedlaeth rhwng 16 a 24 ydi’r genhedlaeth mwyaf unig yn ein cymdeithas heddiw-sy’n eithriadol o eironig o gofio mai dyma’r genhedlaeth fwya cysylltiedig gyda’i gilydd erioed o ran eu defnydd o wahanol gyfryngau gymdeithasol.

 “The Scream”- trosiad am gymdeithas gyfoes

Ond fe wyddwn hefyd fod y problemau hyn i’w gweld ar hyd a lled ein  cymdeithas heddiw, a phobol o bob oed yn dioddef ohonynt. Mae fel petai cymdeithas gyfan yn mynegi ei hun ar ffurf y llun enwog hwnnw “The Scream” gan yr arlunydd Norwyeg Eduard Munch.

Ar gyfer ei lyfr diweddar “Lost Connections- Discovering The Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions” teithiodd y newyddiadurwr Johan Hari, ar hyd a lled y byd i drafod  a cheisio atebion posib i’r problemau hyn gydag arbenigwyr a phobol gyffredin fel ei gilydd.

Treuliodd Hari bron i 20 mlynedd yn llyncu gwahanol dabledi i geisio symud ei iselder a’i bryder ei hun, dim ond i ddarganfod mai jest cynnal a chynyddu ei broblemau a wnaeth hynny. Bydd unrhyw un sydd ag unrhyw brofiad o’r cyflyrau hyn yn gallu uniaethu’n llwyr gyda’r daith seithug hon  i geisio atebion personol  trwy addewidion gwag Big Pharma a’u narratif  camarweiniol ynghylch “diffyg cemegol yn yr ymennydd”.

Problemau Cymdeithasol yn eu hanfod

Mewn un brawddeg gofiadwy, dywed ei fod o megis cymaint o bobol eraill wedi “preifateiddio ei boen” heb sylweddoli mai problemau gymdeithasol ydi rhain yn eu hanfod. Problemau sydd wedi cynyddu cymaint heddiw gan ein bod yn byw mewn cymdeithas doredig, lle nad yw pobol yn medru cysylltu’n iawn gyda’i gilydd na’u cymdeithas chwaith.

Yn ystod ei deithiau, gwelodd fod pobol yn llawer fwy tebygol o wella pan eu bod yn gallu bod yn rhan o ryw weithgaredd cyfunol yn cyd-weithio gyda phobol eraill, a gweld pwrpas cymdeithasol i’w hymdrechion. Trwy ymdeimlo unwaith yn rhagor gyda’r elfen greiddiol honno yn natur y ddynoliaeth, sef yr angen i berthyn  i “lwyth”– pa bynnag ffurf y cymer hynny- a chyfrannu at waith y “llwyth” mewn ryw ffordd neu’i gilydd.

Mae brawddeg yr awdur ynghylch “preifateiddio eu poen” hefyd yn berthnasol iawn eleni o gofio ei fod yn 40 mlynedd ers cychwyn yr arbrawf cymdeithsol hwnnw “Thatcheriaeth”, ac yn ein hatgoffa o un o nodweddion amlycaf teyrnasiad Margaret Thatcher sef preifateiddio popeth ac i’r diawl a’r canlyniadau cymdeithasol.

Bwch dihangol rhy gyfleus

Mae yna duedd yma yng Nghymru i obsesiynu gormod am Thatcher ei hun o gofio ei bod hi wedi hen gamu o’r llwyfan gwleidyddol, a hithau wedi ei defnyddio fel bwch dihangol cyfleus i bwyntio bys parhaus gan bleidiau eraill yn hytrach na hoelio’u sylw ar greu atebion newydd i anghenion cyfoes Cymru.

Ar yr un pryd, anodd yw gwrthod y dystiolaeth ddiriaethol fod y meddylfryd “preifateiddio popeth” hwnnw wedi arwain at wanhau clymau cymdeithasol yn ddifrifol, ac wedi gorseddu gwerthoedd yn seiliedig ar fateroliaeth a phrynwriaeth(consumerism) uwchlaw popeth arall. Ac mae’n debyg iawn bod hyn oll wedi chwarae rhan yn yr holl broblemau iechyd meddwl sydd wedi ymddangos yma dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf.

Felly, wedi cyrraedd ei gasgliad mai trwy “gymdeithasoli atebion” nid “preifateiddio poen” y mae mynd i’r afael gyda’r  epidemic iechyd meddwl cyfoes- pa awgrymiadau sydd gan Johan Hari  ar ddiwedd ei lyfr?

Incwm y Dinesydd yn un ateb

Dywed fod rhaid cael 5 elfen yn eu lle wrth geisio creu cymdeithas well o ran iechyd meddwl pawb ohonom: Cysylltiad gyda phobl, gwerthoedd ystyrlon, gwaith ystyrlon, cysylltiad gyda’r byd naturiol a gobaith ar gyfer y dyfodol.

Awgryma y gall Incwm y Dinesydd- un o bolisiau craidd Gwlad, Gwlad-  fod yn un modd o  ateb yr holl ofynion hyn.

Dywed y byddai gosod trothwy incwm i bawb yn ddi-wahan yn rhyddhau pobol, ac yn eu galluogi i ddiffinio gwaith mewn modd llawer ehangach nag sy’n bodoli ar hyn o bryd. Gallai “gwaith” wedyn olygu cychwyn busnes, gofalu am aelodau o’r teulu, gofalu am yr amgylchedd, ymroi i brosiect cymdeithasol neu wirfoddoli.

Wrth greu synnwyr o waith mwy ystyrlon, mae’r awdur yn grediniol y gallai hyn wella iechyd meddwl pawb ohonom yn ein cymdeithas.

Mae hwn yn lyfr diddorol iawn sy’n werth ei ddarllen.

“Lost Connections- Uncovering the real causes of depression – and the unexpected solutions”. Johann Hari. Bloomsbury Press

Lost Connections

AMONGST the most frightening aspects of life in Wales today are the soaraway rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness amongst young people.

One recent survey revealed that the loneliest generation in today’s society is the 16-24 generation- which is the ultimate irony bearing in mind that this generation is the most connected generation ever by means of their ever expanding social media. There is no doubt something extremely corrosive and isolating in social media, which seems to have amplified many other existing social problems.

“The Scream” as a metaphor for society today

But, we also know that these problems are to be seen amongst people of all ages today. It’s almost as if our whole society is currently manifesting that famous picture “The Scream” by Norwegian artist, Eduard Munch.

For his latest book “Lost Connections-Uncovering The Reeal Reasons For Depression-And The Unexpected Solutions”, author Johan Harri traversed the world discussing these problems with experts and ordinary people alike and considering new answers.

Hari spent nearly 20 years of his life taking various tablets to try and shift his depression and anxiety, only to find that all the pill-swallowing merely sustained and reinforced his problems. Any one who has had any experience in this area will be able to empathize with this fruitless journey to seek answers by means of the empty  promises of Big Pharma and their misleading “chemical imbalance in the brain” narrative.

Empty promises of Big Pharma

In one memorable phrase, he says that a whole generation has  sought to “privatize their pain”, without realizing that those pains are really signs of collective problems for society as a whole, which need social prescriptions rather than medical prescriptions.

During his travels and discussions he discovers that those most likely to recover and thrive  are those who have found new opportunities to work together in a social context with other people, which then gives them a renewed sense of meaning and purpose as worthwhile citizens. By re-discovering that deep human need to belong to a “tribe“-whatever shape that may take- and contributing to the efforts of that “tribe”.

Hari’s phrase about “privatization of pain” also has some wider resonance when one remembers that this year also sees the 40th anniversary of that radical social experiment called Thatcherism”. and one of the key features of Margaret Thatcher’s thinking, the notion of privatizing everything and to hell with the consequences.

There is a tendency here in Wales to obsess too much about Thatcher, especially in view of the fact that she stepped off the political stage almost 30 years ago. She has been used all too often as a convenient scapegoat by parties here,  thus absolving themselves from focusing their attentions  on the here and now and coming up with new answers for Wales’s current impasse.

However, it is undeniable that her “privatizing worldview”  expanded and reinforced by subsequent politicians has been a key factor in the fragmenting of social bonds and the elevation of junk values based on consumerism and consumption which are part and parcel of the mental health issues presenting themselves today.

New connections for a healthier society

So, having argued that we need to “citizenize answers” rather than “privatize pain” – what are Johan Hari’s suggestions at the end of his book?. He argues that for a mentally healthier society we need to have 5 elements in place: Connections with people, meaningful values, meaningful work, connection with nature, and hope for a better future.

The author suggests that A Citizen’s Income – one of GWLAD, GWLAD’s key policies- could be one way to meet all 5 of those elements. He argues that providing an income safety net for everyone will enable people to be able to define work in a much broader sense than at present. Having a guaranteed income in place could mean that “work” can be defined in different ways for people-  for example, starting up a business, caring for elderly relatives, sustaining our natural environment, committing to a social enterprise or volunteering in the wider society.

He concludes that a more meaningful definition of work for all will lead to better mental health all round.

This is a fascinating book which is well worth a read.

Lost Connections- Uncovering the real causes of depression- and the unexpected solutions”- Johan Hari. Published by Bloomsbury.

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